The four most common cabinet materials are wood, laminate, thermofoil, and stainless steel. General care is the same for all, but treatments of scratches and stains differs for each. wood Cabinets can be made of many different materials.
Wood: Varieties, including maple, birch, and cherry. Often, cabinet boxes and doors are covered in a veneer bonded to lesser-quality woods or medium-density fiberboard rather than being made of solid wood. Wood cabinets are usually finished with either a tough, clear coating that seals and protects the wood or a painted finish.
Special Considerations: Do not apply oil to sealed or painted wood cabinets. The oil will not penetrate the finish and will attract dust and grime. Camouflage superficial scratches with shoe polish or a wax fill stick designed for repairing furniture in a color that matches the original finish. Deep scratches will necessitate refinishing.
Laminate (also known as melamine): Made of layers of Kraft paper impregnated with plastic, laminate veneers are generally bonded to wood or medium-density fiberboard to create cabinet boxes and doors.
Special Considerations: Stains on laminates with a matte and granular texture can be treated with a paste of baking soda and water to draw the stain out. Do not rub, as baking soda is abrasive. Do not use baking soda on laminates with a glossy texture. Camouflage superficial scratches using a repair kit made specifically for laminate cabinets, available at home centers or from cabinet retailers. Deep scratches cannot be repaired; you will need to replace the cabinet door.
Thermofoil: This is made of medium-density fiberboard coated with a layer of vinyl. Unlike laminate cabinet doors, which are generally flat, thermofoil cabinet doors often have raised- or recessed-panel designs. Because the vinyl layer is extremely thin, it can be bonded to more intricate shapes than laminate can.
Special Considerations: Camouflage superficial scratches using a repair kit made specifically for thermofoil cabinets, available at home centers or from cabinet retailers. Deep scratches cannot be repaired; you will need to replace the cabinet door.
Stainless Steel: Made of an alloy of steel and chromium, stainless-steel veneers are bonded to wood or medium-density fiberboard to create cabinet boxes and doors.
Special Considerations: Always wipe in the same direction as the grain. Water stains can be treated with a commercial stainless-steel spray. Stainless steel with a smooth finish shows water marks and fingerprints more than stainless with a brushed finish. Although stainless is durable, it will scratch and dent. Superficial scratches can be polished out with a light-duty (white) nylon pad. It’s essential that you polish with the grain; polishing against it will create more damage. Dents are usually not repairable; you will need to replace the entire cabinet door.